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Celebrating Older People with ceremonies

In 1990 the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1st as the International Day of Older Persons.  Celebrant Sonia Collins from Batemans Bay, NSW gives us a few ideas about celebrating the older people in our families and communities.

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It's Time

It's Time!   Spring equinox 23rd September 2017

It's officially spring....
the flowers are blooming...
 new life is emerging....
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Celebrants do more than just weddings...

It's true that a lot of civil celebrants only conduct marriage ceremonies or funerals but there are also many Celebrants who identify as Family Celebrants who offer their services for a multitude of celebrations that will continue on throughout your lifetime....
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Celebrating New Beginnings

Think about all the times in your life when you've started something new... School, university, work, moved house, bought a house, moved in with a partner, moved towns, cities, states and countries, a new project, marriage, children... the list goes on.  TCN Celebrant and today's guest blogger Shell Brown from Mandurah, WA takes us through how we can add ceremony to all our life celebrations.
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Celebrating family members

Celebrating family

We have birthdays, mother's day and father's day... but what about everybody else in our family?  When do we celebrate them?

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Turning 18 is a really big deal!

Turning 18 is a big deal!   

It not only marks your transition into adulthood, but there are quite a few responsibilities that go along with it.  Unfortunately you can’t pick and choose which ones you want to go along with, so luckily most of the things you can do now you’re 18 would be considered ‘perks’ - things that you’ve been waiting years to be able to do… here’s just a small list of 16 to get you started.

Now that you’re 18, you can:
  1. Enrol to vote.  You can now be a part of adult society and participate in elections - make sure you are enrolled so you can have your say. (note: you must be an Australian citizen to do this)
  1. Donate blood.  How awesome would you feel knowing that you helped to save somebody’s life?
  1. Buy and drink alcohol.  Go easy.  Remember, just because you CAN buy all the alcohol, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. 
  1. Go to adult jail. The is where the responsibility part comes in.  If you do something illegal when you’re 18 - you’ll be tried as an adult.
  1. Be on a jury. This is where you get to, along with your adult peers, get to decide on the fate of somebody else’s illegal activities.
  1. Enlist in the forces.  Army, Navy, Air Force… they want you for a new recruit.
  1. Play the lottery.  If you’re super lucky, you might win back the $12.85 that you spent on the ticket.
  1. Sign a lease agreement. This means that you can legally move out into your own place.  Think independence.  Think freedom.  Think paying your own bills.
  1. Work more hours.  Legally there are no more age restrictions on the amount of hours you can work.  You’re going to need to do this if you’re planning on moving out into your own place.


  1. Open your own bank account.  Previously your bank accounts would have been attached to a parent/guardian account.  You’re on your own now.
  1. Apply for a credit card.  You generally have to have worked for a bit and have a steady address, but nevertheless, you are legally allowed to apply.
  1. Buy your own car.  You don’t need Mum and Dad’s permission anymore.
  1. Adopt a child.  This might be something that you want to give a bit of thought to, but  if it’s something that you think you can handle - you’re legally allowed to do it.
  1. Change your name.  Have you always despised the name that your parents gave you?  Well, now is your chance to do away with it and choose your own name.
  1. Be a legal witness at a marriage ceremony.  All you have to do is listen to the ceremony, watch the bride and groom sign the document and then sign them yourself.
  1. Get married.  You can now choose to marry the person you love as long as:
  1. they are also 18+
  2. they are the opposite gender to yourself
  3. they are in agreement to enter into the marriage with you
  4. you have given at least one month notice to your celebrant
  5. you are not directly related to the person you want to marry


There are definitely some bonuses to turning 18, but I think you’ll agree that there are also some big responsibilities.  Now you’re an adult you need to think carefully about every decision that you make and be aware of the consequences that only you will face because of them.

I think we can all agree that turning 18 is a really big deal and should be celebrated.

Talk to your local TCN Celebrant for some ideas on what you could do to celebrate.

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How to add Ceremony to any Celebration

If  you think about it, there is always an element of formality to most events.   

Normally you think of events like weddings, funerals and naming days, but there are way more events in our lives where we can add ceremony.

Ceremonial aspects of events shouldn’t be underestimated in importance. They include opening and closing speeches, music, playing of national anthems, the reciting of special words, presentation of awards and flowers, flag raising, present giving and blowing out of candles.

While it’s not absolutely necessary to add ceremony to your party or event, it does give it meaning and clarification. 

A ceremony can add greatly to the emotion, symbolism and entertainment value of the event and whilst you're at it - why not make it a Party with a Purpose 

One great way to make sure that your event has a beautiful and meaningful ceremony is to engage a TCN Celebrant.  If fact, why not come together with family members or other guests and make your TCN Celebrant your gift.


So, how do you add ceremony to personal events?  I’m glad you asked!

We’re so used to having or going to birthday parties where you play games and eat as much sugar as you little body can handle.  Then as grown ups the party turns into drinking as much as you can and buying a present that we didn’t put much thought into.  So how are we actually celebrating the birthday person? 



What about a "This is your life" theme? Invite friends and family to share a story or express their feelings;  create a book of memories that the guests have contributed to with photos and tales of the person you are honouring; ask all the guests to write an ode to the birthday girl/boy celebrating what they love about them.  Work together with other guests to hire a celebrant to present an awesome ceremony that befits your friend.

This is such a transitional time in a person’s life.  They have just worked through 6 or 12 or 16+ years of study to be where they are now standing with certificate/diploma/degree/PhD in hand.  Each step of the way should be celebrated for the hard slog already done and to help motivate for the next steps ahead. 



Why not organise a visual gallery of the students' work?  Perhaps a ceremony whereby graduating students are paired with younger students interested in the same field as mentors? You could have teachers, parents and other educators let students know what a great effort they’ve put in whilst giving the students the opportunity to share how proud they are of themselves, and to thank their educators.

Anniversaries pass every year, sometimes unnoticed, but each year is a milestone in your relationship and it is a great time to reaffirm your feelings for each other.  Maybe this doesn’t need to be a big fanfare every year and maybe for you a private, reflective ceremony is all you need…. but then again - why not celebrate in style every year with a ceremony that says “Hey - look what we did! Again!”



Relive your marriage ceremony - repeating your original vows or creating new ones each year as you grow as a couple - also a great excuse for a catch up with your bridal party; Celebrate something different about you as a couple each year - first year: honour your shared love of writing with a poetry infused ceremony; Second year: Celebrate your love of travel with a destination ceremony, you get the idea…



(just a little tip:  I know some lovely TCN celebrants who would jump at the chance to perform your ceremony in Fiji!)

When you receive a promotion at work, there is sometimes a ceremony and presentation with bosses and work colleagues which is a great acknowledgement of your hard work and achievement, but there is nothing stopping you from having your own ceremonial event because it is a reason to celebrate.  



Perhaps before you crack the bottle of champas, you could make a speech thanking and giving your own awards to the people who helped you get where are today.  Gracious, thoughtful and appreciated.

New home
You’ve saved, you’ve scrimped and you’ve gone without, but now you have the keys to your brand new pad. You’ve organised a housewarming and you can’t wait to crack open a beer and celebrate with your mates….. but stop for a second to think about what you have achieved - that deserves more than just knocking the top off a cold one.  Your efforts should be recognised, your sacrifices, applauded. 



Have a small ceremony to stamp the moment that you did this thing and it will make it all the more memorable; You could thank the people who helped you get there;  Have a special blessing put over the house; Light a candle symbolising your future at that address and even use the candle to start the BBQ - #new beginnings!

Want to read more? Click HERE to check out some of our sugggestions for celebrating every stage of life.

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Why not give a ceremony as a gift?

birthday cake 916253 200Have you ever thought of giving a loved one a ceremony as a gift?  Perhaps this sounds a bit strange but think about it a bit more.  How many people recognise this scenario:

Your sister from interstate rings - "It's Mum's 80th birthday in 3 months time - what are we going to do about it?"  You talk a little more and decide that it would be a good time to get the family together and have a bit of a party to celebrate.  So the message goes out - the family are all primed to be at Mum's favourite restaurant where you have booked a private room for lunch on the big day.  A few of Mum's close friends are let in on the secret and invited and the plan is underway.

The next phone call is almost inevitable - "what shall we get Nan for a present? - it should be something special for her 80th"  So you talk to a friend who happens to be a Celebrant.  And this is what you come up with:

Let the celebration be the gift

Suggest to all attending that the very best gift for Mum will be the company and love of her family and friends. Agree that each will make a contribution to that gift by being a participant in the day.  Engage a Civil Celebrant to coordinate the arrangements and conduct a short ceremony before the lunch.  Decide to share the cost of the meal and Celebrant in whatever way is fair for your family and circumstances.  

Your Celebrant will put a lot of work into the day as Coordinator and Presenter.  She will work with you to design your ideal ceremony.  Her suggestions might include - Let the children and grandchildren nominate a role they will take on the day - to sing, play, read a poem, make a DVD from Mum's photos, compile a CD of songs from different eras of your Mum's life, present flowers, make a speech, bake a cake, escort Nan to the venue and so on.  Your celebrant will weave these contributions into a ceremony.  She may invite everyone who is attending to write a letter or card that shares some special memory they have of your Mum and compile these into a gift book.  She will probably record the highlights of Mum's life There are many possibilities and you will be able to discuss these and decide what suits your needs.

By the time the big day arrives you and your family will have created a unique gift for a special person.

To find a The Celebrants Network Celebrant to help you plan or to get more information and ideas for a special celebration have a look at our website

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